Intelligence: October 9, 2002


Despite spending over $30 billion a year on intelligence, the U.S. has always had plenty of satellite photos, but precious little information from people actually on the ground. Once the Cold War ended, it was thought that working with foreign intelligence agencies would be a cheap and effective way to get information without the expense, and risk, of sending American agents all over the world. But the sheer size of the American intelligence community has made this difficult. The problem is that, although the CIA is supposed to be THE "Central" Intelligence agency, it has never been able to operate that way. The CIA can collect information from other agencies, but often with some difficulty (especially when it comes it the DIA, or Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI.) The CIA was never given control of the money going to other intelligence agencies, and thus has no easy way to control what they do. As a result, things can get out of control. And that's what happened when the CIA, DIA and FBI all began establishing links with foreign intelligence agencies. These countries were often happy to cooperate, but were dismayed when they were visited by teams from CIA, DIA and FBI. Aside from the additional work required to deal with three, rather than one, agency, these three outfits often worked at cross purposes. Naturally, the competition between the three agencies, and difficulty in getting the three bureaucracies to cooperate, made the mob scene a regular occurrence, and the popularity of American intelligence agencies a declining asset. 


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